This is a story about American Airlines, acts of kindness, and viral social media posts.

It's about an American Airlines passenger--a sportswriter and aspiring player agent named Delilah Cassidy--who was on the last leg recently of a trip from London to Phoenix, via LAX.

As she explained when I talked with her last night, she ran into three problems when she tried to board the plane.

Problem #1: A gate worker flagged her carry on bag for being too big. But with her basic economy ticket, American Airlines requires a $50 checked bag fee.

Problem #2: Forced then to pay the baggage fee, it turned out Cassidy's credit cards weren't working; she'd come home a couple days earlier from Europe than she'd planned and since her bank thought she was still overseas, it suspected fraud. Cassidy offered to pay cash, but the American Airlines employee said she couldn't take cash at the gate. 

Problem #3: To board the flight, Cassidy would first have to walk outside security to pay the fee. But if she did that, there was no way at all she could possibly make her flight.

There she stood, Cassidy recalled on Twitter, "pleading, devastated after a long day of travel."

The Rescue

Cassidy was in trouble--but the man behind her in line came to her rescue--offering to put the $50 charge on his credit card. As she reported to the world on Twitter shortly after it happened:

"I'm astonished and tell him it's fine not to worry .. [H]e hands the lady his card [and] the American Airlines employees stand in silence shocked by this man's generosity. I'm crying as I write this and as I board the flight. This man was an angel.

I stop him as he's sitting in first class and try to give him my money but he just shook me off and told me to pay it forward.

My heart is so happy. There are good people in this world. Be that person for someone because I know after this I sure will be." 

Good story so far, right? But then came the twists that made it rally go viral.

The Update

Cassidy is a recent college graduate who works as a sportswriter for sites like SB Nation, and who interned for both the Arizona Cardinals and the Diamondbacks. She's  planning to start law school in the fall, with the goal of becoming a sports agent.

Her top tweet previously was about how she shut down some sexist guy doubting her sports knowledge, by rattling off all the NFL's starting QBs and running backs. 

Despite that background however, she hadn't recognized the man who had come to her rescue until a flight attendant pointed him her: Jermaine Gresham, a Pro Bowl tight end for her hometown Cardinals.

They started talking; Cassidy told me she'd been wearing a t-shirt with the Chicago Bears logo on it. 

"I like the Bears, they're cool," Gresham told her. They made me an offer to come over there."

The Player

When Cassidy updated her tweet to include Gresham's picture, it started going viral. As I'm writing this it has more than 42,000 likes and 5,700 retweets.

But Gresham isn't big on social media himself, so he had no idea he was suddenly getting more attention now for a small act of kindness in an airport than for his on-field performance. (He's been injured the past year, but is rehabbing with the team.)

A social media manager for the Cardinals told him finally. Then, in his first locker room interviews after the story, he seemed surprised that people were still talking about it: 

"My guy texted me. He's like, 'Yo, you're a vial sensation!' I'm like, 'For what? I didn't get arrested or nothing,'" he said to laughter.

He added: "I hope anybody would have done that. It's just how I was raised. Core values: You see somebody in distress, just help them out. Nothing more, nothing less."

Cassidy told me she still has friends who work for the Cardinals, so she showed up at the team's facility yesterday to drop off a thank you note for Gresham. He happened to be walking through the lobby at the same time.

"There better not be any money in there!" he told her when he saw the envelope with her note.

"I never thought this would take off the way it did," Cassidy told me. "It's great. I told him if I can represent guys [in her future professional plans as a player agent] with half the heart you have, my career is going to be a dream."

Published on: Jun 9, 2018
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